Monday, 30 January 2012

Orange Pear Apple Bear

I'm avoiding putting age recommendations on my posts as I think they're of limited value. My kids can still derive a lot of pleasure from some of their simplest 'baby' books, and will also enjoy hearing quite complex texts read aloud too. Books is books I reckon and too much classification can inhibit discovery in both directions.

But this week, as promised, I am going to introduce a little more focus to my reviews by starting with something to be enjoyed by the youngest and working upwards day by day (although Friday will be a day for off piste discoveries perhaps...)

This weekend, the husband and I took ourselves off to the cinema to see 'The Artist'. If you've seen it yourself you may agree that it is a thing of great charm and exquisite construction. It certainly led us to idly pass our time in wondering how many other movies could be perfectly well told or even improved by the absence of dialogue. Anything with Jason Statham in it for instance.

It also brought to mind today's book 'Orange Pear Apple Bear' by Emily Gravett, which is similarly a thing of great charm and exquisite construction. A few years old, it has already achieved classic status as well as a cluster of its own bookish 'Oscars'. Hooray for minimalism we say today.

The book uses the words of its title to set up a series of playful juxtapositions, all beautifully demonstrated by Emily Gravett's elegant watercolours. The four items  are shown separately and then in combinations that highlight how words' meanings can change depending on placement. Thus 'Orange Bear' shows the bear coloured orange but 'Bear, Orange' shows the bear eating the orange. So very, very subtle but very lovely. And a first primer in punctuation too.

Eddie received this book as a parting gift from the mysterious Alex, a young man who 'observed' Eddie for an hour a week for the first two years of his life as part of a Masters in Psychology I think. To make his observations as unobtrusive and uncorrupting to 'real' family life as possible he was not allowed to speak or interact with us. During his hour he sat perfectly still and silent and just watched. I can't tell you how much both boys loved his visits and really looked forward to him coming; despite the fact that he never played or spoke to them. Minimalism it seems can be just as attractive in relationships. It was a very suitable present for Eddie; who continues to enjoy it. Well observed Alex.

I'm pilfering other people's pictures today as I can't find our copy. Even though we read it last week. grrrr. Could be an indication of a need to do a bookcase tidy. Other people's pictures are better of course so that's an advantage.

'Orange Pear Apple Bear', Emily Gravett, pub macmillan, isbn 1405090227


  1. We borrowed this from the library and my four year old especially loved it as it was the first book she read all the way through ;-)

  2. When I told my husband that I had still reviewed it despite the frustration of not being able to find our copy, he dryly commented; 'that was brave- now are you sure you could remember it?'...:)